Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a condition that affects more than six million people globally and is the leading cause of blindness in North Americans over the age of 55.
What is AMD?
The eye condition involves the degeneration of the macula, the innermost part of the retina, which is responsible for central, high-resolution vision. This type of vision is integral to activities such as reading, driving and recognizing faces. Essentially, macular degeneration causes the center of your vision to blur, while leaving the side or peripheral vision unaffected.
There are two types of AMD: dry and wet. The dry form accounts for 90 percent of all cases but the wet form results in the largest number of instances leading to blindness.
In its early stages, AMD doesn’t present symptoms. However, it can be detected during routine eye exams. The first symptom will likely be slightly blurred central vision that occurs while performing tasks for which seeing detail is necessary. Glasses won’t correct it.
Treatment for AMD may involve vitamins, anti-angiogenesis drugs (which have allowed patients to regain their vision in some cases) and laser therapy. There are also magnifying devices that people with AMD can use to maximize their remaining vision.
Early detection of AMD is important, as certain treatments can slow the disease or reduce its severity. Given the absence of symptoms in the initial stages, having eye exams regularly is advisable.